Sustainable Innovation: Understanding and building the future of companies.

May 3, 2023

When innovation strategies begin to run short of alternatives to continue promoting the differential growth of a company; when the increasingly tight times of an “agile” context do not allow thinking twice; when methodologies are the “catch-all” word par excellence to justify any kind of step forward in the direction of “innovation”; when learning by doing has come to bite its own tail like a whiting and accumulate so much “done” experience that any new experiment or project already moves with the inertia of an automatism, it is necessary to stop and study again. In this sense, stop is an investment and to continue a bet. This is what I call a “Hands-off building”.

To study is to understand, not to memorize

In the innovation field, to study implies scratching conscientiously in the fine grain of normality to find the real value of the processes, behaviors, gears or trends with which we live today in our day-to-day. These are our starting points to look for the next step. We need to understand very well where they come from, their transformational capacity for society, and the underlying system of relationships on which they depend to find their raison d’être and design the future we can build in and with them.

Tools oriented to gain time for innovation

When, in the midst of increasingly complex mechanisms and the absence of time for study, the day-to-day unfolding of strategies for progress/change/transformation/innovation, or whatever name we want to give them, leads to half-hearted efforts, to settling for the fattened grain or, as we say in my country, the “much ado about nothing”. Today, more than ever, our reality demands a real effort and dedication to understand where we come from and where we are going.

To trace these paths from the practice of innovation can often end up running against an operational and a structure too “armed” in the day-to-day, which prevents the acquisition of real value in the process, the discovery, and therefore the potential for change of the proposals achieved by the lack of awareness of the importance of understanding and guiding.

The coexistence and survival of these two factors must necessarily guide today’s work in the design of “what is to come”. Any of the instruments we use to develop this work must be able to accommodate this relationship, a natural symbiosis, in this search for the valuable fine grain from which to build the future.

Working to ensure the financial sustainability of a business

According to INE data, almost half of the newly created companies (49.7%) in Spain do not last more than 5 years, and the average age of those that will sooner or later have to close increases by only 3.5 years to 8.7 years. When, from now on, we have to start building, let us know not to let ourselves be carried away by time. Let’s recover the value of stopping to study, to understand, let’s know how to scrape that time to consolidate a solid short-term value acquisition that allows us to support long-term growth while remaining relevant.

At Byld, our work to find those threads to pull forward with large corporations is increasingly guided by the balance between the entrepreneurial compass of venture building and the systemic understanding map of strategic design. Through both, we measure and order the territories in which we enter to dig, building new realities for the business without using our hands, with our head, but without stopping to do, knowing how to dedicate time to study and think about why and for what we do them, and how we can do them better every day.

Construction as an inspiration in building companies

In innovation, most of the time, it is very helpful to identify those practices or systems that help to connect with new ideas and ways of doing things. As an architect, I’ve picked up a construction concept as an inspiration to the content shared above. 

In construction, reinforced concrete is a very widespread material due to its versatility of use and its capacity for structural flex-compression work: The steel bars inside it allow flexibility and adaptability to the context of forces, and the concrete set around them is the critical mass that withstands the compression, the weight. 

Just as concrete is adaptable and flexible in construction, so are innovation processes from the very beginning. And if it’s necessary to stop and start again, it’s the right thing to do.